At the risk of giving several readers a case of deja vu, that took a little while, didn’t it? I apologize for the delay and long lull between posts…but it is a great time to say that such periods can be expected on and off here at The Ghostess Talks. And primarily because of at least one of two things…
- – As much as I hate to admit it, there are times where there really is not much, if any noteworthy news and recent/current tidbits pertaining to the original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and around which to craft posts.
- – The chances are near 100% that if life has not gotten in the way, give or take a few days, I am more than most likely working on the next feature article, I.E. an episode review, list, or something else.
That said, please do not fret what-so-ever whenever there are two-three weeks between posts…if anything, get excited because something grand is to eventually arrive!
Welcome to the first ever list AND Halloween party in the history of The Ghostess Talks! And please do not be spooked by the magic number for this and most lists being thirteen…there is actually a good reason for it. Given that a sizable portion of my lists will be comparing the best that Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) has to offer versus the lesser things (can’t be said enough…no such thing as ‘worst’ here), I feel it best to be even-keeled and split all twenty-six episodes down the middle, giving us thirteen for each end of the spectrum. I will also admit that I just like the number in all of its appropriate mysticism, as well as also like a bit of consistency between most of my lists.
In the wide world of ITC, there is no program far more suited for Halloween than Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). And even though all twenty-six episodes do feature our favorite ghost and white suit wearer to various degrees, some are very much more focused on Marty Hopkirk, his powers, and other ghostly and spooky matters considerably more than others. These are, at least in my opinion, the Randall and Hopkirk episodes best suited for a Halloween soiree screening or a simple holiday binge-watch.
13. “Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave”– So many things about this episode that scream Halloween and its inclusion on this list…
- – The opening scene in the graveyard with one of only two times we ever see Marty Hopkirk in all of his white-suited glory in the moonlight (the other being the very end of “Vendetta For A Dead Man”…there so should have been more such shots than just two in the entire series).
- – All of the time spent in and around the cemetery and funeral parlor.
- – The uber-utilization of coffins between what I consider to be the best part AND quote of the episode courtesy of Marty (“This takes me back. Whatever you do, get one that fits!”) and the meat of the so-called bad guys’ plot.
- – The so-called bad guys’ (consisting of probably the most surreptitious funeral home director in all of telly-dom, or at least outside of Six Feet Under, AND his assistant played by Geoffrey ‘Onslow/Keeping Up Appearances‘ Hughes!) use of eighteenth century ghost figure costumes.
- – As much as it gets on my nerves (as I will cover sometime from now in my review/analysis of this episode AND future lists), one could argue that Jeff’s being handled as a psychopath is borderline Halloween-ish.
So why only #13?
Pure and simply because it is a weak and just not all that good an episode compared to others. This is honestly tied with “The Man From Nowhere” (and I was debating having this episode in this list for the sheer creepiness of a conman stalking a dead man’s widow AND claiming to be her late husband having just returned from beyond the grave, but decided to relegate it to an honorable mention right here) for my utmost lesser episode of all twenty-six. I can and will never lay claim to disliking an original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk episode…but great googily moogily, this one does drive me a little bonkers between everyone BUT Jeff Randall arguably being a villain of sorts (yes, even Marty and Jeannie as much as they initially disbelieve Jeff AND very nearly want to have him committed!) and the central supporting characters not exactly being the most likable and resonating people in the world…a ‘fake’ millionaire and his ‘son and heir’ who is nothing more than a living parody of 60s counter-culture…crazy, man, crazy.
Somebody just walked over my grave indeed.
It really is a shame for this is truly one of the more Halloween-ish episodes of the series. If only ITC had allowed Kenneth Cope to execute his brilliant idea to have actually shown Marty Hopkirk helping the English football team with scoring the winning goal instead of only hearing about preventing the German team from emerging victorious in a dialogue exchange between Jeff and Marty. Such a crafty notion might have actually saved this episode from the rock bottom tier…or at the very least, would have easily, EASILY been the episode’s other best individual moment alongside Marty’s coffin quip.
12. “The Smile Behind The Veil”– And just like that, we are at the episodes that are not necessarily Halloween-ish through and through, but they have one or two such moments that make them an absolute must for inclusion on this list. “The Smile Behind The Veil” being left out would be an utter crime with it having these three features…
- – A beautifully done cemetery scene with Marty watching over Jeannie placing some flowers at his grave.
- A seamless segue into the funeral of his new neighbour, Caroline Seaton (who, in my opinion, would have been a fantastic unseen but sometimes talked about ghost character had Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) landed at least a second season/series), and the title-sake scene.
- And, dare I say, most importantly of all, THE ONE TIME we see Jeff Randall as a ghost, complete with the iconic white suit!
Unlike the entry before it, the storyline of this one is considerably finer with better defined antagonists, the main characters being more on target with their characterization, the main supporting character (the real Donald Seaton) being more sympathetic, and a twisty yet easy to follow plot truly and deservedly distinctive of many a good private eye vehicle. I do wonder how much more remembered this episode would be versus others if it had not been for Jeff briefly being a ghost (which, quite unfortunately, was usurped and misused in the bloody remake…that will be further discussed in a future list) and the episode happening to be the last ever aired one in the London Weekend Television programming order versus only the seventh episode in the production order. Given the rather haphazard manner in which episodes were aired, ANY of the twenty-five episodes other than “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” could have easily been the last ever one (and kinda sorta were given the different affiliates and their airing orders). But I for one am glad this episode had the distinction of being the last one between the left wide open imaginative potential of Marty’s neighbour, among other things, and especially the closing exchange in both dialogue and expressions between Jeff and Marty making for a nice series ending note.
11. “Murder Ain’t What It Used To Be!”– Speaking of other ghosts…I can hear some of you right now… “Aw, c’mon! Why didn’t you pick “You Can Always Find A Fall Guy” instead of this one?!” Well, and consider this my other honorable mention, “Fall Guy” is not at all a bad candidate for this list, and I certainly thought of it. But, as much as I really, REALLY dig the small display of never-seen-before-or-since powers from Marty…
- – His ability to change a person’s reflection to that of him.
- – And communicating with clinically dead people.
…let’s face it, Bugsy ‘Smiler’ Spanio’s display of powers…
- – Being able to be seen by anyone he chooses.
- – Altering the color/pattern of what he wears.
- – Being able to have a cigar.
- – Pulling other spirits into the past with him.
- – Weather control(!!! and used to terrifying effect in frightening Jeannie).
…blows Marty’s “Fall Guy” set out of the water and into orbit. But what surrounds such a marvelous demonstration of what Marty could potentially do, give or take forty years or so (if not sooner, given what Marty can already do AND how strong his vibrations are said to be at least once or twice) is the very reason this episode is only #11. In my Internet meanderings through the years, “Murder Ain’t What It Used To Be!” has tended to be a bone of contention between many a Randall and Hopkirk ghost, with it being liked or disliked with almost no in-between. ‘Almost’ because I consider myself an in-betweener when it comes to critiquing this episode. “Murder!” is overall a terrific concept that just could have been better executed in a couple of spots, most notably the interactions between Marty and Bugsy, which do come off as a bit cartoonish at times. The most particular of those times being when Bugsy knocks Marty to his feet with the old shoulder poke trick (you would think original and forever BEST Marty could have avoided that with his street smarts, gumshoe chops, and overall brains) and the grand climactic ‘fight’ between Hopkirk and Spanio that becomes all the more silly when you stop and think “What on Earth/in Limbo is preventing Bugsy from flexing his ‘better ghost’ muscles against Marty?!” (Please don’t get smart and say budget. :P) And yes, I did just admit that Bugsy is the better ghost of the two, BUT only for that episode, which is why, for better or for worst, I personally hold it to be essential Randall and Hopkirk Halloween viewing…one-legged contest between Marty and Bugsy warts and all.
Courtesy of Icy Twaine AND the Ghost Buds Tumblr.
Aw, don’t pout Marty…twenty-five out of twenty-six episodes ain’t bad (hey, per the episode’s title and its source dialogue, I believe I am entitled to at least one ain’t 😛 ). And in MY book, it is and will always be twenty-six out of twenty-six episodes, even if Bugsy does have a rather phenomenal plethora of powers…come at me Smiler!
10. “When The Spirit Moves You”– Ooooh! One more Halloween-ish aspect of the previous episode…Bugsy was quite the malevolent spirit between haunting his chosen one, Paul Kirstner, for the sole purpose of getting revenge and trying to whack him AND threatening to terrorize Jeannie and ‘fix her for good’. Marty is much more benign, having only told Jeff he was ‘haunting’ him once in “But What A Sweet Little Room” (“Only I can see you Marty, and I sometimes wonder why.” “Because I’m haunting you.”). But here is one of only two episodes that Marty uses his threat of haunting in a considerably more frightening (but definitely awesome) manner. His ‘victim’ being none other than Calvin P. Breem, the world’s worst conman…who almost escapes that title when he manages to get Jeff into the pokey for a shooting he did not do. Certainly not if Marty can help it, as he brilliantly demonstrates in this clip.
I especially love the tone to Marty/Kenneth Cope’s voice throughout this amazing scene, complete with the deliciously ghoulish laugh.
In spite of its berth on this list, this is one of the ultimate gold standard episodes, and for me personally, is interchangeably #5 in my all-time top five, only switching places with “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” because I am admittingly indecisive like that. Just a little all too easy to do with classic and BEST Randall and Hopkirk. But this episode has it all…FANTASTIC cast (including the late, great Anton Rodgers as Calvin P. Breem) and OUTSTANDING story and concept…I will always love when the writers figured out ways to have otherwise non-psychics be able to see and/or hear Marty. Things like that are what make me wish there had been at least a second season/series…that AND characters with incredibly strong return potential like Mr. Breem. No way was he going to stay on the wagon nor away from London…
9. “Who Killed Cock Robin?”– What is Halloween without a seance, or more particularly a session of Ask The Glass, an improvised version of Ouija done with a wine glass in place of the placard and cards with letters and numbers concentrically spread around a table instead of a board. ”Who Killed Cock Robin?” is the one and only instance in the entirety of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) when Ask The Glass was utilized as part of a plot (unless you count the alternate/these days regular introduction with a glass moved by a hand to indicate Jeff Randall and then Marty Hopkirk right before he is killed). Do note that it is only Ask The Glass that is being talked about here, NOT seances in general, for those do play a more significant role in the series, and will be discussed later. The use of Ask The Glass is very, VERY important in that it is not only crucial to the climax of “Cock Robin”, but it also and especially solidifies the establishment of a subtle, but sometimes strong psychic link between Marty Hopkirk’s spirit and Jeannie Hopkirk’s mind/spirit, as evidenced by the struggle with another woman at the session’s helm before Jeannie takes over.
As for the episode itself, I have to confess that it is a middle of the road/somewhat lesser one for me personally because I have never been the largest fan of Agatha Christie knockoff plots, which the storyline is, just centered around a collection of birds. But there are saving graces in the forms of a couple of impeccable Marty moments, notably his interaction with Gabrielle Howe in the aviary (and trying to wake up Jeff in the process) and the aforementioned Ask The Glass sequence.
8. “The Trouble With Women”– Whether or not Ask The Glass/Ouija may be genuinely considered a seance of sorts, we could always consult The Society of Spiritualists (North London Division) about such matters. But something tells me that they do not monkey around with ‘mere parlor games’ while they can conduct REAL seances, complete with a medium. As I mentioned in the previous entry, seances do indeed and quite naturally play a significant role in the Randall and Hopkirk mythos, and this is one of two such occurrences. This particular use of seances may not be the meat of the episode like its soon-to-be-talked-about sibling (you just knew it too would be on this list), but it is a major part of the climax AND, for my money, easily one of the three best parts of an episode (the other two being the beginning with Marty accompanying Jeff AND proving that his bitter cold presence does not affect Jeff, and of course, Marty helping Jeff cheat at poker) that while not the best one, is certainly one of the better episodes with a more straight detective plot. Also, both the portrayal of several spirits trying to make use of a seance (we see that not all spirits don a white suit (the one who tells Marty “And you can push off!” sports a white turtleneck sweater, as well as one of the spirits had a been a chef and another a soldier in their physical lives) and how Marty manages to jump the queue is splendidly and humorously done AND a must-include for any and all Randall and Hopkirk Halloween viewing.
Oh, and one more thing…you would think that at the stage this episode takes place in the London Weekend Television programming order (#23/the fourth to last episode), OR even in the production order (#9) after being telephoned by a hypnotized Fay Cracken (“It’s Supposed To Be Thicker Than Water”/#8) and a patient still under anesthesia (“You Can Always Find A Fall Guy”/#5), and especially after being contacted by the Spiritualist Society, all mentioning Jeff Randall, Scotland Yard would FINALLY be on to there being more than meets the eye to Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): Investigators, and at least give them a little more of the respect they deserve. Bloody skeptics…
7. “Vendetta For A Dead Man”– This is a tricky episode to place and judge on this list. I would argue that this episode is not the most Halloween-ish episode, and yet it definitely has a couple of elements that are very appropriate for October 31st…
- – Jansen being, without any doubt, one of the two closest damn things to a psycho killer in the entire history/mythos of the series. For all we know AND based on his being in the prison’s psychiatric ward, the very crime Jansen was put away for was being a serial killer…although I realize that he was put away for only eight years. Well, what is to say that Jansen did not hire a savvy criminal lawyer like Ralph Sorrell?
- – As seen here, the chase scene in the amusement park’s Hall of Mirrors is extremely reminiscent of many a typical horror movie…just with the scary mirror shatters being done by the hero instead of the villain/killer.
- – The freezer scene with Emile Cavallo-Smith and Marty proving that despite his sense of humor and overall friendly and polite demeanor, he can most certainly have his downright vicious and brutal moments when and if need be.
But back to Jansen…he is the second best antagonist in original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk history, and all credit and some goes to George Sewell and Donald James for that. This episode is easily, EASILY a top-fiver for me personally between Jansen himself, Jeff and Marty having some of the most spot-on characterization of all series entries, this episode being far and away the best Jeannie-centered one, and the story being the utmost beautiful melding of straight detective, supernatural, and suspense in the entirety of the franchise. And as much as I wish to have this in a much higher position than it is on this list, again, its Halloween-ness is up in the air, and a matter of personal perception…so dead middle of the list it has to be.
Although, a factor that could up the Halloween potential of this episode is that had there been at least a second season/series, what is to say that Jansen couldn’t have returned as a ghost? And between his mental instability and flat-out heinousness, I bet his vibrations would make Bugsy Spanio’s seem remarkably tame.
6. “All Work And No Pay”– You cannot get a more perfect segue between the ‘not as Halloween-ish, but kinda Halloween-ish’ episodes and the mostly Halloween-ish entries than this particular one…apart from someone being saved for a bit later, Randall and Hopkirk rogues gallery members do not get any more Halloween than the Foster Brothers.
- – They are always dressing like morticians.
- – Their vehicle of choice is a Hearst.
- – Their home looks exactly like a direct lift of the Addams and Munster mansions, complete with all sorts of Gothic and eccentric decor and what appears to be a permanent Ask The Glass setup (but later on, it is replaced by a circle of tarot cards) on their main table in their drawing room.
- – They have such an obsession with contacting the dead to the point of resorting to murder to ‘create their own spirits’.
- – And their obsession is such that they also have to resort to non-supernatural means/I.E. all sorts of ridiculous machinery to get their poltergeist kicks, and at times in a rather lethal manner.
With such aspects, and most especially intentions, you would think that the Super Foster Bros. would truly be the highest placed in the upper echelon of Randall and Hopkirk villains…so what is holding them back?
While not nearly as jarring as “Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave”, I personally regard the storyline surrounding the Fosters as among the somewhat weaker of the series. It is a ‘Don’t get me wrong.‘ thing…the episode has its moments, particularly Jeff’s laundromat lunchtime/the rare tiny bit of history about Jeff and Marty and their friendship (as well as finding out that money, fame, and most especially time do not matter to those of a spectral nature), seeing what is quite possibly the most enormous extent of Marty’s powers of the entire series (his vibrations can affect an ENTIRE POWER GRID!!), and the climax with a nude woman wrapped in a newspaper (I am not at all making that up and will say no more to further prompt you to buy the Blu-Rays/DVDs and watch the episode 😛 ). But the overall plot of the Fosters goading Jeannie into working for them AND relying on her naivety towards themselves and their objectives borders on a teeny tiny bit grating.
But if it is any consolation to any and all fans of this episode, I do indeed believe the Fosters to be among Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)’s best baddies, and having intense return potential had there been a second season/series or beyond. If anything, and at the very least, to deservedly lay claim to being in a stronger episode.
5. “The House On Haunted Hill” – What is a franchise centering around a ghost protagonist without a haunted house? The very title sake alone lands this episode an automatic #5 berth…even if most likely fake. The ending does seem to want to hint that there might, MIGHT be an actual ghost haunting Merston Manor when one seemingly replies to Marty Hopkirk’s joke about his wife’s family and sister at the episode’s near-end. But the laughing ghoul sounds just like one of the ‘few lousy sound effects’ (thank you Jeff Randall) designed to ward off unwanted visitors and would-be intruders alike, as well as alert members of what turns out to be a very covert criminal operation…so Merston Manor really and honestly being haunted remains up in the air. But between the honestly not lousy sound effects and Marty’s thoroughly classic reaction to those effects, the house is still the most rightful co-star of its episode. The other star is Marty of course between his being probably the only ghost in the world afraid of his very exact kind and the dwellings for which that kind are most famously associated. We also get to meet the famous ghost ‘expert’ (but not the only such thing in the series, for there is Dr. Plevett in “Never Trust A Ghost”) in Henry Mace Horsfall, as well as his evidently Sherlockian colleague, Frederick P. Waller…complete with shades of an upcoming episode on this list in that Horsfall seems to not be able to see spirits until Marty somehow, someway awakens his ESP, making for one of the most memorable AND personal most favorite moments of the episode. Also, remember what I said earlier about there were two people Marty threatened to haunt? Mr. Horsfall is that other person besides Calvin P. Breem.
This is one of the two episodes that feature Jennie (her surname/Jean’s maiden name is never ever mentioned), and the only one to solely feature her completely in place of her sister. And she really is more harmless here than she would be in “A Disturbing Case”…if anything, some of the humor in this episode, centering around Jeff’s not being one who wants to settle down and marry no matter how much Marty harps about it (“Hey..if you play your cards right, we could be brothers-in-law!”) and even more especially his constant attempts to land a date, would fall flat without her presence.
Another Halloween-ish aspect of this episode is Lattimer, the other closest damn thing to a psycho killer in the Randall and Hopkirk mythos as much as he absolutely delights in wanting to murder Jeff and Jennie and how gruesome such a act could have been, as well as give the series the closest thing to a jump scare moment when he is dressed as an Elizabethan skeleton. Jansen was a downright nasty character, but even he did not take as much glaringly obvious pleasure in what he aimed to do to Jeannie, his being a perfectionist about the timing of the would-have-been horrible deed aside. In that regard, an argument could be made that Lattimer is the second best ever Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) villain…decisions, decisions…
4. “For The Girl Who Has Everything”– One decision that is not all that difficult to make is having the other haunted hous, er, excuse me, castle episode be a tick higher than “The House On Haunted Hill”. Just like Merston Manor, Crake Castle is not really haunted, but there are certain ‘little things’ that rather nicely create the effect…
- – Jean Claude’s Sir Hubert De Crake costume.
- – And most especially Kim Wentworth‘s screams (which I believe raise the volume five notches from where it actually is on the television…careful with your late night viewing, boys and girls!).
The episode also introduces us to the original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk mythos’ first and only ever ghost hunter in James McAllister, whose expertise is immediately questioned at the very beginning with his not at all detecting Marty’s presence in Jeff’s flat (“He’s not very good, is he Jeff?”). But to make up for that, “For The Girl” also gives us a character who is unarguably the best good clairvoyant (and really, the only one, if not two when counting the unnamed medium in “The Trouble With Women”) in the series, Mrs. Pleasance. She is also the centerpiece of the only two lowdown dirty shames of the episode…one, it takes Jeff and Marty way too long to remember that she can see and communicate with Marty and in turn help get Jeff out of Crake Castle’s priest hole, and two, that she was not kept alive for one more episode to help out Jeff and Marty again. But Mrs. Pleasance’s unfortunate passing does mark this being one of only a handful of times we see other specters besides Marty Hopkirk. In the production order, this is the very first time we see another ghost besides Marty, but is the second time in the London Weekend Television programming order, with “Murder Ain’t What It Used To Be!” and Bugsy Spanio being the first in that sequence.
“For The Girl Who Has Everything” is a definite top thirteen entry, with a star-packed cast (including Lois ‘Moneypenny’ Maxwell as Kim Wentworth and Carol ‘then future Monty Python girl’ Cleveland as Laura Slade/Larry Wentworth’s girlfriend), exquisite characterization (Jeff and Marty’s Mrs. Pleasance brain fart moment aside), and a just well done story. Its having one of the more Halloween-ish atmospheres of the series just enhances an overall fine episode all the more.
3. “But What A Sweet Little Room”– Very appropriately with the earlier acknowledging/slight debate about the good clairvoyants of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), we are at the episode that presents the most questionable of such people. The one, the only Madame Hanska (played by Doris Hare alias Stan’s Mum in On The Buses), who whether or not truly good or bad, but definitely a late bloomer with her psychic prowess (making her the first ever such character in the production order, but only second after Henry Mace Horsfall in the London Weekend Television order) is certainly the most memorable supporting character of this entry and among the series’ best supporting characters, helped by her being the absolute focal point with her seance business and its ties to Arthur DeCrecy’s awful operation. The utmost Halloween-ish climax of “But What A Sweet Little Room”, particularly how Marty Hopkirk gets Madame Hanska to spill the beans about DeCrecy’s nefarious schemes (semi-rhyme unintentional), makes us want to believe that Hanska is and has always been good right down to this quote of Marty’s.
“Her aura was rather good…I had no trouble materializing.”
But if she truly was decent, why on Earth would she remotely entertain having any sort of hand in DeCrecy’s evil ways? And I mean EVIL ways…a house and/or a room designed to send clients to their final destination practically the moment they step foot in it? My dear dad, bless his soul, made this harrowing observation the one time he and I watched this episode…
“That house and room is just like something H.H. Holmes would have designed and used.”
For those of you not familiar with H.H. Holmes, he was the most infamous 1893 Chicago World’s Fair serial killer who utilized a ‘murder hotel’ for a great deal of his crimes. He sometimes is theorized to have also possibly been Jack The Ripper, but that is what a grain of salt and the rest of the Internet are for. I don’t know about all of you, but DeCrecy and his house of death being just ever so slightly reminiscent of such an heinous individual in history certainly makes him the most Halloween-ish of Randall and Hopkirk’s non-supernatural rogues.
Well, Jeff and Marty agree with me anyway.
In turn, even if Madame Hanska said to Marty/his Ancient Roman persona that she was going to stop her double dealing and start treading the straight and narrow, there is just no way, no how I can consider her ‘good’ with there being no telling how many customers she sent to their deaths under DeCrecy with their arrangement beforehand. In addition to being another top thirteen worthy episode, there is a very valuable lesson presented here, boys and girls…be extremely careful of the so-called psychics you choose to approach for the curiosities they present.
2. “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner”– It should be said that the top three could and should really and honestly all qualify as a collective number one for this list and overall topic. Despite the chosen order, I am immensely hard-pressed to pick a definitive number one between “But What A Sweet Little Room”, this episode, and the upcoming entry. All three episodes have outstanding beyond outstanding Halloween facets, as well as beaucoups of general merit. And two of the three are a true testament to the sheer creative genius of Ralph Smart and how much bonafide love he genuinely had for the concept in all of its uniquely supernatural glory…golly, how I wholeheartedly wish he had written another episode or two. Smart was an absolute master at combining hardboiled straight detective with haunting ghost story. And I will confess that as much as I dig “But What A Sweet Little Room” and all of the fearsome factors of its plot, villain, and certain supporting characters, I have to give “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” the slight edge with its meticulously crafted atmosphere and everything, from amazing characterization out of the gate (which is phenomenal for a pilot episode) to Marty Hopkirk’s spectral origin and fireworks-like display of nearly all of his powers, that is presented in a nice and neat package. Furthering the Halloween ante are several visits to the graveyard, one of the said powers being the possession(!!) of Jeff Randall (the only display of such an ability in the entire series…too bad we did not see Marty possess someone at least one more time, unless what he did to Sir Oliver Norrenton in ”When Did You Start To Stop Seeing Things?” might count), and the one time we hear the (in)famous “Afore the sun shall arise anew…” rhyme (albeit in bits and pieces), among other things.
In general, the episode is gold standard through and through and should be an automatic top five for any and all Randall and Hopkirk ghosts. And although not as scary as Arthur DeCrecy and his literal house of horror, Sorrensen and ‘murders for hire’ are still formidable antagonists as trigger happy as they are, in addition to being among the most historically significant baddies of the franchise, if not THE most historically significant, with their being the reason Marty Hopkirk ends up as a ghost. And really, it just does not get more Halloween than the story of how, exactly, someone leaves this mortal coil and is transformed into a specter…or does it?
1. “Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying?” – The only thing that can be even more Halloween than the origin of a ghost is the uber-potential death of one. You know you truly have a one of a kind series/franchise when a titular character almost, ALMOST dies twice, as Marty Hopkirk quite famously does in this episode when he is nearly exorcised. “Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying” goes above and beyond the other twenty-five episodes with its having far and away the most supernatural plot of the entire series, and not just with Marty’s impending exorcism, but also Lord Grade knows what else Cecil Purley is doing to Marty’s being whenever our favorite spirit is not in Purley’s sight. Cecil Purley is, for my money, the most magnificent antagonist in all of the original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk mythos. With a classic gentle Englishman demeanor concealing the heart of a cold ghost killer, Purley has charisma to the nines. And with his being by far the grandest ever threat to Randall and Hopkirk in that he is the ONLY villain of all featured throughout the course of the series to ever remotely be a threat to the deceased half, Purley virtually is to Randall and especially Hopkirk what Lex Luthor is to Superman, The Joker is to Batman, Doctor Doom is to the Fantastic Four, Professor James Moriarty is to Sherlock Holmes, etcetera. If any character makes Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)’s being only one season/series such a downright pity, it is Cecil Purley, for he had the strongest return potential of all baddies, and I would have LOVED to have seen what further villainy he could have committed, with or without the same gang surrounding him. Who, by the way, are certainly not chopped liver themselves with their overall scheme of not only torturing Marty, but also making a fool out of Jeff around Inspector Large (this episode is notably his debut) too.
In addition to a MARVELOUS story and cast, particularly the one, the only Charles Lloyd Pack as Cecil Purley (and I sincerely could not imagine the character being portrayed by anyone else) and Alexandra “Sharron Macready/The Champions” Bastedo as Carol Latimer/Purley’s assistant, this episode is simply the absolute creme de la creme of the series, and beautifully boasting the most iconic AND Halloween-ish moment in not only the entire history of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), but also British and general television with the climax of Marty Hopkirk ALMOST (thank goodness) getting exorcised.
If these are not the most duplicated ever pictures from the show, they rank right on up there. The one on the left has been featured as one of the two British TV Classics postcard representations of classic and forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), as well as a mini-poster on the back of an issue of Time Screen, among other sources. All further hitting home with what an utmost amazing episode this is, and THE ONE to screen at any and all Halloween parties, if you could only pick just one…
…But why pick just one? Why not screen/binge watch all thirteen featured episodes? Or even better yet, why not all twenty-six episodes? The longer and all the more Marty Hopkirk is allowed to haunt your Halloween, the better and all the merrier…right? RIGHT?! Don’t make Marty REALLY haunt you…
Happy Halloween to all fellow Randall and Hopkirk ghosts and ghostesses AND Happy Birthday to me as of the 31st itself! Neat and coincidental fact: I was born at 3:30 PM EST, which is 8:30 PM GMT, I.E. when Marty Hopkirk was officially killed in the classic and forever BEST mythos…seriously!
Don’t let the ghost gangsters, goofy gothics, naughty psychics as opposed to good ones, and/or sneaky funeral home directors get to ya!
Caroline “It’s the REAL most wonderful time of the year!” Smith
This list, particularly the photos (which are the property of ITV Global Entertainment), as well all other eventual Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) lists would not be possible without the aid of these sources.
2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set and its bonuses, particularly the bonus image gallery for “Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying?”.
2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.
A profuse amount of thanks to these sources and their authors, producers, and everyone else involved…let us work together in being ‘Faithful Unto Death’ to keep the Randall and Hopkirk spirit alive.
And please, please, PLEASE buy the Blu-Rays and/or DVDs of the classic and forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)…man and woman cannot AND should not live on Ghostess-written list articles alone.
YouTube – “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” (The ENTIRE(!!) episode available for viewing.)